Monday, May 19, 2008

Bean-Eaters Will Rule the World

These economic times are more than a bit trying. In an effort to help the environment, I got a diesel car 5 months ago. Since then the cost of diesel at the pump has gone up more than $1.40 per gallon, the price of gas just a few years ago. So, money savings need to happen somewhere. And since I spend a great deal of my money on food (as human fuel), this is where I am learning to be even more economy-minded, as well as ecologically-minded.

For me, the best ways to do that are to eat low on the food chain, buy in bulk, sustainable or organic, and local, and cook in the pressure cooker. It's possible for me to do this with beans.

And since it's spring, the fava bean comes to mind. I was at the farmer's market the other day and someone was buying 4 large fava bean pods. I was quite amazed as there might be 1/4 cup of beans in there. She explained that she doesn't like beans. To that I responded, "Bean eaters will rule the world."

David, of Crescent Moon Farm, whose partner Jill is the farmer, said, "We already do." And while I am not sure about that, I do know that if you want to save money on food, turn to beans as a big part of your diet.

My local sustainably grown beans are expensive at $5 per pound or more. The interesting thing about that is that when you figure out the cost per 1 cup serving, it is often less than $1, which is often hard to achieve with animal protein.

And if you've read what I've written about the latest Carnegie Mellon study, if you switch to eating vegetarian just 1 day each week, it's the equivalent of eliminating 1160 miles of driving each year.

I like to make big batches of beans and store them in my freezer so that I only need to cook once for many meals. Just the other day I made a vegetable dish in the pressure cooker in 3 minutes and at the end added my frozen, cooked Hidalgo (must mean super yummy in Spanish) beans. It was very filling and really delicious.

Beans in the pressure cooker, especially the heirloom (older) varieties, cook quickly. I always presoak with a quick-soak, and the cooking time ranges from 4 minutes at pressure for pinto beans to 14 minutes at pressure for garbanzo beans. Soy beans take longer but I rarely cook them.

Most beans cost less than $2 per pound. You can easily make a big pot of vegetarian chili or lentil soup for less than $5 and feed yourself and your family well. I want you to become one of the people who rule this world. So, eat your beans today.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Mother's Day for The Veggie Queen

Unlike many other people around these parts (Northern California), I usually wait until at least Mother's Day to plant my small garden. I've found that when I do it any sooner, there is likely to be a frost and the plants often don't make it.

So, I patiently wait.

This year for Mother's Day we decided to do something different and attend the breakfast held for the Timber Cove Volunteer Fire Department. My mother-in-law, son, husband and myself were to travel up the coast (of CA) to Plantation.

Unfortunately my MIL didn't feel well so she stayed home. My teenage son decided that was reason enough to not go, so my husband and i went. I figured that there would be a hundred or so people willing to make the drive.

But I was wrong, there were about 300 people in all who were there. I actually even ran into people that I knew from more locally -- this is a good 1 hour plus drive, to a very beautiful spot. And most of the people took the time to go.

The food was completely uneventful and nothing to bother writing about. But they gave out cute little corsages and pinned them on the mothers. They had sparkling wine, delicious strawberries and an array of incredible rhododendrons to see, labeled with their names in a rainbow of colors.

When we got home from our adventure, I planted a cucumber and a tomato. My son made me a card that I will forever treasure, as simple as it was. He included a "slave labor" coupon in it to be used as I see fit. Hhhhm, I'll have to cook up some ideas and pull one out of my hat.